'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ask Santa.

The wind picked up and a dark cloud moved overhead. I went to the shed when the first drops of rain fell. I stood inside the door and looked out. I listened to the noise of the rain on the roof. After about ten minutes, it started to ease, and a few minutes later I could see blue sky again.

My cousin June has a son and a daughter, Graham and Daisy. During one summer holidays they played Snap to pass the time, but it got boring when they didn’t win anything, so they started playing for things like stones or ladybirds. The stakes got higher all the time, and by the middle of the summer they were playing for the Atlantic Ocean. They felt that they’d need something more complex than Snap when they were playing for an ocean, but they didn’t know any games more complex than Snap. They both agreed that the only man who could help in a situation like this was Santa. They wrote a letter to Santa asking him to bring them a game that would be appropriate for deciding who wins the Atlantic, but after two weeks they hadn’t heard anything from him. Their mother, my cousin June, had other things on her mind at the time. The road in front of their house was full of potholes, so she wrote to the County Council and asked them to do something about it. They wrote back to her and said that it’s not their responsibility to repair the road because it’s a private road. They said that they’re not entirely sure who owns it, but they know it’s not them, and they don’t exactly own any of the roads, but they own this one even less than the others. And no one really owns the roads. But someone owns this one. When Daisy and Graham lost patience waiting for Santa’s response, they decided to ask someone else for help. There was a show on TV about a pirate with a wooden leg, and a brush on the end of the leg. He used to spend his days sweeping the deck of the ship with his leg. He had a parrot on his shoulder that kept saying, “You missed a bit.” The kids decided to write to the pirate – he’d surely know much more about oceans than Santa. June didn’t post the letter, but she thought that she should write a response. So she used the letter that the Council sent to her. She just re-arranged it a bit and wrote it in the voice of a pirate. It said that no one really owns the oceans, so they can’t play for the Atlantic, but someone owns the road in front of their house. The pirate didn’t know who owned the road, but he knew it wasn’t him. He suggested that they play Snap for the road. June had called up a local radio station to complain about the Council’s response, and they asked her to send in the letter, but she sent in the wrong one. She sent them the one from the pirate, and it was read out on air. It started with ‘Arrr’. People were furious with the Council when they heard this. The letter sounded familiar to the Council, so they accepted that they had written it. Daisy had won the game of Snap, and the Council accepted that she owned the road. She decided to have a tea party on her new road, mainly just to annoy her brother (he wasn’t invited), but it blocked the road for hours. The Council had to buy the road from her, and then June had proof that they owned the road, so they had to repair the potholes as well. She celebrated her victory with a few friends and a few drinks, and on the following morning she had a vague idea that she had sent letters to Santa and the Pope asking for their help in getting the Department of Education to refurbish the school. She knew that she had sent one to the Pope because he was the only one who responded.

The moose’s head over the fireplace stared over my head when I stood in front of it. It seemed to be deep in thought. I had a feeling that one of its eyebrows was slightly raised. I went to the window and looked out for a few minutes, then I went back to the fireplace. I was going to ask the moose’s head a question, but I ended up staring at the eyebrow – I couldn’t even be sure that he had an eyebrow, let alone tell if it was raised – and I forgot what I was going to ask. I went back to the window again and looked out.